How Aspirin Works, Uses, Side Effects & Who Should Avoid

Aspirin was commonly prescribed as pain reliever. Today it is used to manage heart diseases. But, how many of us know how it works, its uses and side effects? Probably most take it for granted.

In this post, we will look into how Aspirin works in preventing and managing heart attacks.

How it Works?

Aspirin works in two ways. First it decreases inflammation (which is root cause for heart attacks). Secondly, it reduces formation of blood clots (which causes heart attacks).

Plaque builds upon inflamed arteries. Aspirin works directly to inhibit inflammation. It blocks an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. This further reduces the production of prostaglandins. And prostaglandins are responsible for inflammatory response.

Heart attacks occur when built up plaque bursts open. Blood rushes to form a blood clot. Blood clots are formed when blood platelets clump together. Again prostaglandins are responsible for formation of blood clots. Therefore, when prostaglandins are inhibited, bloods clots are reduced.

Uses of Aspirin?

Aspirin is mostly used during a heart attack. After you call 911, the operator may ask you to chew one. As you know Aspirin decreases formation of blood clots. Therefore, the damage caused by reduction in blood flow is less. Moreover, it also provides time to reach the hospital.

Aspirin is also taken to prevent heart attacks. People with high risk for heart disease pop low dose Aspirin once a day. The benefit from Aspirin increases with risk. If you are low on risk for heart disease then Aspirin may not be beneficial. People at high risk for heart disease include:

  • smokers
  • diabetics
  • family history of heart disease
  • obesity
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • people who experience Angina.

Read everything about Angina and how to recover here.

Aspirin is also taken to prevent a second heart attack.

How to Take Aspirins?

  • If it’s chewable Aspirin then chew it.
  • If it’s extended-release, do not chew, crush or break. Swallow whole.
  • Do not take Aspirin on empty stomach. Take them after meals. In this way you will avoid upset stomach.
  • Never take Aspirin with alcohol. It increases the possibility of stomach bleeding.

Side Effects of Aspirin:

Every medication has side effects. Here are some side effects:

  • Severe headache as a result of bleeding into the brain.
  • Hives
  • Asthma attack
  • Your throat, lips, tongue or/and might swell
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Nosebleeds
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Bloody stools
  • Bloody urine (it may also appear pink)
  • stomach ulcer
  • nausea
  • Ringing in the ears

Call your doctor immediately, if you notice any of the above symptoms.

Who Should Avoid Aspirin?

  1. Heavy drinkers must not take Aspirin. Aspirin thins your blood and alcohol has the same affect. Taking Aspirin will further thin your blood leading to adverse effects.
  2. People who have bleeding problems (ulcers).
  3. Pregnant women and those trying to get pregnant.
  4. People under age 18 and recovering viral infection should not take Aspirin.
  5. And those who are allergic to Aspirin.